This article originally appeared in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article.
By Jack Mintz, April 20, 2023
Alberta has released its Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan, which will no doubt be heavily criticized by environmental groups for not committing to hard near-term emission-reduction targets. Maybe, though, Alberta is on the right track. Rather than committing to unrealistic targets that will be broken anyway — something done countless times in the past 25 years — it is better to focus on doable actions rather than words.
I was a member of the environment minister’s advisory group that assisted in developing the climate plan. For the first time, Alberta states its aspiration to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. On the other hand, near-term targets were found to be easier said than done. There were just too many unknown technical, commercial and regulatory uncertainties in implementing low-cost technologies to commit to targets without further technical work. No question, there are exciting opportunities laying ahead for Alberta and Canada: hydrogen, renewables, nuclear, carbon products, renewable biofuels, geothermal, critical minerals, and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), to name a few. The world will decarbonize, but the path and timing are not cast in stone.
The last page of the 51-page document states this principle well in bold letters: “Alberta’s approach remains founded on comprehensive and program frameworks to achieve ambitious yet achievable goals.” As the document outlines, methane emissions have fallen by 45 per cent since 2014, four years earlier than proposed. Power emissions have dropped by 40 per cent since 2005 largely by displacing coal with natural gas, seven years earlier than planned. Overall, Alberta’s GHG emissions have dropped almost 10 per cent from 281 Mt in 2015 to 256 Mt in 2020, somewhat better than its original 2008 goal. Maybe not fast enough for the critics but progress nonetheless.